HARMONY, PA, April 7, 2023 – About 350,000 cardiac arrests occur out-of-hospital each year in the U.S. Most people who witness a cardiac arrest don’t know what to do. Acting quickly is crucial to saving a life. Devin Latsko is a senior at Seneca Valley High School preparing for graduation in May. Without the swift action of his teacher, things could have turned out much differently.
“Last year, during my junior year, I was in gym class running the mile. A dreaded event by many," Devin said. “I got around the first lap and started running the second lap when I began to feel my heart beating faster. It was not until the end of the second lap that I noticed how fast my heart was beating and before I knew it, I had fallen backward onto the ground.”
Devin went into cardiac arrest. Only about 40 percent of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest receive the immediate help they need before professional help arrives. Fortunately, Todd Schoeffel, Devin’s gym teacher knew what to do and immediately began Hands-Only CPR until the paramedics arrived.
“Looking back on this event is surreal, Latsko said. “As students we are taught about CPR and cardiac arrest in our classes, and we are even required to become certified, but it is never something that I thought would directly impact me, and ultimately save my life. I was fortunate enough to have my gym teacher, someone trained in CPR, to be there to help me.”
Understanding the importance and urgency of CPR, Devin dedicated his graduation project to working with his school community to educate his peers and teachers about heart health, the American Heart Association and lifesaving tools like CPR and AEDs.
On Friday, May 12, Devin will give his final presentation before the senior project review board and will surprise his gym teacher, Todd Schoeffel, with the American Heart Association Heartsaver Hero Award.
“I would not be here today without the amazing staff at UPMC Children’s Hospital, the emergency responders from Harmony EMS and of course my PE teacher, Mr. Schoeffel," Latsko said. “My life has changed for the better as I have taken control of my health and work each day to learn more and educate others to live a healthy life.”
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
For Media Inquiries:
Contact: Karen Colbert, American Heart Association Greater Pittsburgh